Just finished reviewing my notes: this is definitely on! It will be worth going through it for even one person. This should be pretty interactive, as long as we remember we are looking for simple examples that help us engage with the text. Scarry provides many of these, but I suspect ours will be just as good.
Time for our third "Study." The time has been moved to THURSDAY evening by popular demand, and because I have a class in Berkeley on Thursday afternoons. (Should guarantee being on time:-)
The reading I've selected to present (you don't need to read it yourself, unless you really want to) is a piece that just knocked me over the first time I read it. I've read it at least two more times since, as it's rather dense–the most linear of the pieces we've studied so far. Elaine Scarry is not exactly famous, though this book is very well regarded–particularly for her analysis of torture. But that portion is quite arduous, and I have decided to start in the middle of book, at a chapter that ties its two halves together, "Pain and Imagining." A reason for tackling this now is that its ideas reach into many of the themes we have and will discuss, such as Work, Creativity, and Property. Scarry is our first female author, and also our most contemporary, as this work is from 1985.
Let me point out that discussing "pain" should not be, itself, painful! This is a scholarly work that, in this chapter, uses everyday examples of pain and pleasure, such as hunger and friendship, placing them on a continuum.
Individuals are expected to benefit from this discussion in several ways:
- This chapter provides an accessible entry, that perhaps only an English professor could provide, into ideas otherwise found only in difficult works (like Heidegger's).
- These ideas will be instrumental toward getting us to think in the "creative prospect".
- Exposure to concentrated thought provides a paradigm for our own thinking, particularly if we can achieve understanding through dialogue only.
- The small size, and focus, of the group means everybody will be "on the same page," which could be an eye-opening experience.
- If it goes anything like Bergson on Laughter did, then our exchanges will incorporate contemporary examples in a very satisfying manner, and will segue into a rather nuanced freeform discussion.
The original idea of the format (see bottom of the first Study ) included optional roles besides presenter and listener: reader, auditor, observer. I will bring a copy of the book to the meeting. Let me know if you want fill one of them. The "critic" will have to wait until after we've made our way through the text, which won't be longer than 75 minutes. Please do try to answer the RSVP questions: they are my gauge of whether people understand what we are and are not trying to do.
Thank you, in advance, to the intrepid among you!